Wednesday 19 December 2018

Super Saturday!

Hurlers and footballers facing two big tests

It could be a super Saturday for Wicklow GAA if the county's hurlers and footballers can overcome two major obstacles in the form of London in the Christy Ring Cup semi-final and Cavan in the All-Ireland football qualifiers.

They are two formidable obstacles and will take two superb performances from both Seamus Murphy's hurlers and John Evans' footballers if they are to progress to the next level.

First up on Saturday are the hurlers who face the surprisingly early start of 12.30pm at Netwatch Cullen Park for their semi-final battle with London. It's very unlikely that the defeat to Kildare will leave any hangover whatsoever given the injuries that struck prior to the game and the fact that they scored 3-17 while not playing particularly well. The Kildare men must make the journey to Inniskeen in Monaghan for their semi-final against Derry on Sunday, making nearby Carlow a very attractive opposition by comparison.

London finished their Christy Ring group stage with a thumping of Armagh and have what looks on paper to be a very threatening attack and a punishing defence with Brian Regan dropping back to the edge of the square having worn the number six jersey last season.

Wicklow will need to be at their best to get over this semi-final hurdled and secure a final berth to face either Derry or the Lilywhites for a second time.

Later, on Saturday evening at 6pm, the Wicklow footballers will go into battle with Cavan in Joule Park Aughrim. A big crowd is expected with parking available in the Aughrim Community Grounds and in the field opposite the bridge on the Aughrim to Arklow road.

Wicklow will hope to put the lessons learned against Dublin and the huge positives from the Offaly game to good use against the Breffni men.

Although they exited the Ulster championship at the hands of Donegal, Cavan have been running up big scores so have Wicklow the backs capable of winning their man on man combat and closing down the likes of Seanie Johnston, Cian Mackey, Caoimhin O'Reilly, Dara McVeety who is available after injury and Adrian Cole.

They also have Irish international rules player Killian Clarke in their ranks alongside Gearoid McKiernan who is one of the top players in the country.

The last time Cavan played in Aughrim, James Stafford and Thomas Walsh dominated the midfield exchanges, McKiernan and Clarke will be a real test for Stafford and Rory Finn on Saturday.

There is also the possibility that McKiernan could go to full-forward where he would be a real menace with his size and ability. He kicked 0-7 in the defeat to Donegal from the edge of the square.

Cavan don't do away days very well lately, they did have a win in Tullamore over Offaly last summer (1-17 to 0-16) but can be got at.

It is five years since they had a win away from Breffni in the Ulster championship, Fermanagh beaten in Brewster Park in 2013, they made it all the way to the All-Ireland quarter-final later in 2013 before Kerry got the better of them.

They may not fancy this too much and this is where the Wicklow crowd needs to prey on their fragility.

Wicklow People